Firstly, Happy New Year to you all and I trust you had a pleasant holiday season. Now it is back to normality and time to face that long cold January. As something new this year, I am straying away from food a little and including a look into grooming as well, although there will be tips and advice suitable for all.
Men’s grooming is getting more and more popular each year, yet still many men do not discuss it with each other. It becomes more difficult still when you have a skin complaint to deal with. Before I had psoriasis I could use almost any product off the shelf, didn’t matter what was in it, my skin rarely reacted to anything. So let’s kick off January by looking at grooming, skin care and food to set you up for the year ahead.
Shaving with psoriasis
Shaving can be particularly problematic for those with psoriasis. Many of the products out there can irritate if your skin is particularly sore and even when clear, you have to keep up a strict regime to fend off any flare ups.
- Choose your razor. My personal choice is the good old reliable Gillette Mach 3. It fits my face and contours well and I have tried quite a few different ones now. I am not saying you should get this razor, try different ones and find one that suits. If you go for electric I would suggest looking at the ones you can use in the shower, as they are a little kinder on your skin and made for using with gels or creams.
- Shaving foam or gel? I always go for gel, usually one for sensitive skin, moisturising or with aloe vera (note not everyone gets on with aloe vera). If you find a few that you like, you can always look out for offers and get the cheapest.
- Prepare your skin. Always wash your face before shaving with warm water to open the pores a little and use a wash or scrub (if you’re not too sore) made for sensitive skin.
- Whilst your face is still damp it is a good time to apply a thin layer of emollient, something like Diprobase, Epaderm or the like. Then apply your shaving gel. If using a waterproof electric razor you should find it will cope, just make sure you clean the shaving head straight after.
- Now shave. As the experts will tell you, always shave in the same direction as your beard grows, never against the hairs as this can tear your skin.
- Moisturise. Make sure you put a balm or moisturiser on your face after you shave as even the moisturising shaving gels can dry your face out a little. Using your normal emollient or a balm for sensitive skin is perfect. Nivea do a great post-shave moisturiser that’s not too greasy and soaks in well.
My final tip on shaving is to try not to shave too often, although this may not be convenient for everyone due to requirements at work. I am lucky enough to work somewhere that my employers are happy to let me go without shaving for a few days, always making sure I look respectable when we have meetings or visitors. It is worth talking to your employer about this.
Hair and scalp care with psoriasis
Looking after your hair and scalp to reduce flaking can help you feel more confident. I have a favourite black velvet jacket that I love wearing but it shows flakes up like a beacon! It is one of those items of clothing that makes me feel good though, so my scalp needs to me managed to stop it flaking. I cannot advise any prescribed treatments but you may want to try Alphosyl 2 in 1 Coal tar shampoo. It smells horrible but that soon fades. I have found it very useful although not everyone does. You could also try Nizoral shampoo which, even though not made for psoriasis, I find helps when I just have a few flakes. It is more just a strong anti-dandruff shampoo.
At the moment, I’m pretty clear on my scalp and find that Head and Shoulders anti itch shampoo helps keep my scalp from feeling dry and my hair feels better than using more medicated shampoos. A bit of a bargain find recently is a Tea Tree oil conditioner from Aldi, around 50p a bottle. I was just starting to get more flaky and tried this and it made a difference after just three washes. I don’t know if the product worked or if it’s a coincidence that my scalp cleared up, but it has to be worth a try at that price.
The psoriasis-friendly breakfast
Well, I had to get food in here somewhere! This won’t be an everyday breakfast, more of a treat for the weekend or a day off. Smashed avocado with maple glazed bacon is a delicious breakfast and full of goodness as well as bit of a treat with the bacon added.
Ingredients (serves four):
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 red onion
- 3 or 4 fresh tomatoes
- Fresh coriander
- 1 fresh lemon
- Olive oil
- 8 rashers of streaky bacon
- Maple syrup
- Sour dough bread
Finely chop the onion and tomatoes and put in a mixing bowl. Peel and roughly chop the avocados and add to the bowl, squeeze all the lemon juice into the bowl and give this a mix. Do this quickly so the avocados do not go brown. Roughly chop a small handful of fresh coriander and mix into the other ingredients. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste and give everything a good mix with a fork and mash up the avocado.
For the bacon, cover a baking tray with grease proof paper, lay the rashers on and cook in the oven on a medium heat for about ten minutes. When nearly done, brush on some maple syrup and return to the oven for a few minutes until sticky and crispy. While the bacon is cooking, toast slices of the sour dough bread.
Spoon the avocado mixture onto the toast and lay the bacon on top. A great breakfast or brunch to start the New Year.
The psoriasis review
Now you’ve had a shave, done your hair and finished off with a great breakfast, it’s time to tackle your skin. You can do this any time of the year, but why not start the New Year by reviewing your skin. There are so many apps out there you can use, Leo’s own MyPso App is a great tool to use to prepare for your doctor’s appointment. It is also worth finding a PASI (Psoriasis Area and Severity Index) sheet to download and score yourself. Have a good look at your skin and think about what you want from your Doctor in advance of your appointment.
Review your skin care products, throw out anything that’s out of date and make yourself a list of the ones you find do and don’t work. Take the list of those that work to the Doctors with you as you may find some are available on prescription – many emollients are and it makes them much cheaper.
Be sure to make that appointment and tell your Doctor how the condition is affecting you. Remember that not all GPs have a good knowledge of psoriasis, so much of this relies on you being proactive and telling them how it is affecting you. Is it making you lose sleep? Are you anxious or feeling depressed? You need to make sure you get the message across.
Start the year with a determination to beat psoriasis and remember you are never alone. If you want advice from people who understand, there are numerous support groups online and millions of patients around the world.
Wishing you the very best and clearest skin for 2017.
This content is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.
UK/IE MAT-06397. Date of preparation: December 2016